Supervisor David Kaiser opened the October meeting of the Romulus Town Board with roll call and the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a moment of silence.
Tom Bouchard reported that they spent time on the SEQR for Sned-Acres. The Planning Board sent out letters of interest to DEC, South Seneca Ambulance and Ovid Fire Department, as well as Seneca County Health Department for their input as to the environmental impact. It is still in process. There will be a public hearing at the December 2 meeting.
Romulus town board members met with Barb Johnson, Stuart Brown and Varick Town Board representatives. They proposed some zoning changes to allow more usage of the shared Depot property. For example, they are looking at residential zoning. As yet, there is no word from the state regarding the lake front parcel.
Kaiser reported that he had received the County Planning Board's approval of the Site Plan Review for Sned-Acres as well as approval from Verizon. He also announced that there is still a vacancy on the Romulus Zoning Board.
The Dog Control officer's holding area required inspection. It was done; everything passed.
Kaiser’s preliminary budget for 2014 was $4500 over the 2% cap established by the state because of regular expenses as well as the unexpected increase in the South Seneca Ambulance annual request. Adoption of the final budget will follow a public hearing on November 20, 2013.
Addressing the issue of sidewalks in the Town of Romulus, Kaiser reported that the previous administration accepted the roads. "Unknown to us until the properties were researched recently, the properties at Lakeshore Landing were surveyed to the sidewalks rather than to the center of the road. Our attorney, Steve Getman, researched NYS law on roads and sidewalks as a result of a complaint from at least one resident that the town should remediate the problem created by a tree causing a sidewalk to rise.”
Getman presented his findings. "The issue: one resident has a tree which is causing certain liabilities for the town and argues that the town should undertake responsibility for the repair of the sidewalks in the interest of public safety. The resident opposes the removal of sidewalks and/or trees. Other residents may or may not have conflicting viewpoints. What are the responsibilities of the town with regard to sidewalks and trees?" Getman said generally, the care of sidewalks and trees is imposed upon the Highway Superintendent. It is his duty to remove broken sidewalks and overhanging branches and trees which prove to be dangerous. However, the town does not have to assume responsibility if there is an injury as borne out by referenced law. If the town wishes to completely give up being in the tree and sidewalk business, they could tear out the trees and the sidewalks or have the residents establish side walk districts at which time the residents would be completely responsible. The town board can pass a local law establishing policy that the homeowner is responsible for the maintenance of his sidewalk as well as its liability.
A lively discussion ensued. It was most commonly felt that the town should remove the offending trees. The Town Highway Department has already yellow-marked damaged sidewalks. It was felt that the offending sidewalk sections should be removed, with responsibility for that sidewalk to be turned over to the home owner.
Kaiser suggested that the Town Board needs to meet with the current residents of Lakeshore Landing to come to a resolving decision.
Yet another member of the audience asked to bring up an unrelated issue. Apparently, there has been discussion, but the Homeowners' Association--a private association--has not yet taken a position about what to do about Sunset Court. However, he have been looking into the cost of repairing that road to a standard that the Highway Department could maintain it and that the Town Board would accept. "A number of residents have contacted you. The Board of Directors of the Association would appreciate you letting the 16 homeowners interface with the Board of Directors to work out a plan which can be brought forward to the town for you and Highway Superintendent to review, approve or reject. We are not at that point yet. But, we are trying to work on a plan that will be acceptable to everyone, without interference from the board before the plan is ready to be made public.”
Jim Williamson, Highway Superintendent, offered, "I do not have the time to contact each resident separately. However, I do have a plan with some ideas (for Sunset Court) that I think would work." The Association was happy with that resolution. Kaiser added, "We're not here to make things hard. We are here to try to help you."
Seneca County is continuing its search for a Tax Assessor for the Five-Town Tax Consortium (Covert, Lodi, Ovid, Romulus and Varick). The search has realized only those wishing to work part-time at salaries higher than the towns wish to pay. In the interim the former Tax Assessor, Anne Morgan, was contacted; she agreed to continue in the position until the end of December.
Jason Henderson, President of the Board of Trustees for South Seneca Ambulance, was present to answer questions. The late budget from the Ambulance Corp created havoc with the town's budget--particularly when they had not applied for the tax-cap override. They promised Henderson that they would do the best they could at their next budget workshops. Unlike North Seneca Ambulance service, South Seneca does not have 200 insurance calls per month to self-fund the service. They can no longer rely on volunteer help because training and certification is costly.
Kyle Collingsworth and Gordon Carroll visited the Depot recreation center to assess its assets. It is in good condition with 2 bathrooms and an outside playground. It has a lot of potential. It was decided that since plans which had been made earlier for that building would not materialize because of the town's liability, the equipment should be surplused and alternative uses of the building should be discussed.
The following resolutions were approved: verification of payables, budgetary transfers, accept 2014 preliminary budget, appoint Anne Morgan assessor until 12/31/13, authorized local zoning board members to attend meeting in Batavia, and surplus exercise equipment from Depot recreation center.